A cause of death was not listed on the bureau’s website but, according to TMZ, Pearlman died from “an ongoing cardiac problem.” The celebrity news site states the official cause of death is listed as natural causes.
TMZ notes the producer died Friday at a hospital in Miami, before he was scheduled to have surgery. He was reportedly transferred to the hospital from prison, where he was serving a 25-year sentence.
Pearlman, who earned the nickname “Big Poppa,” was one of the most successful producers of the 1990s, known for creating bands such as The Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, LFO and O-Town. Pearlman managed the bands under his own record label, Trans Continental Records.
In 1998, Pearlman’s business practices came into question when the Backstreet Boys filed a lawsuit against the producer over an unfair contract. People reports that, according to court documents, the band claims to have received just $300,000 while Pearlman somehow earned millions. *NSYNC filed their own lawsuit against Pearlman in 1999, after dealing with similar monetary issues, and in 2002, Aaron Carter also sued the producer.
In 2006, it was discovered that Pearlman’s crooked money dealings went beyond his boyband empire. Investigators learned that Pearlman had been part of a massive Ponzi scheme and had swindled investors out of more than $300 million.
In 2008, he was convicted of fraud, money laundering and conspiracy. He pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison. The judge told Pearlman he could reduce his sentence if he repaid the people he cheated, but he never paid, People reports.
Pearlman was also plagued by allegations of molestation, after accusations were published in a 2007 Vanity Fair article titled “Mad About The Boys.”
In 2014, Lance Bass told The Hollywood Reporter that he would “hear things” about Pearlman.
“He would always have young boy limo drivers for Trans Continental Records; those limo drivers would always be put into different boy bands,” he said. “I’d hear rumors that he would molest the boys before they would even get into the groups. I don’t know how much of that is true, but to me, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”
Upon hearing the news of Pearlman’s death on the weekend, *NSYNC members Bass, Justin Timberlake and Chris Kirkpatrick paid their respects on Twitter.
“He might not have been a stand up businessman, but I wouldn’t be doing what I love today wout his influence,” Bass wrote.
This post has been updated to include information about Pearlman’s cause of death.
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